Box Office: ‘Super Mario Bros. Movie’ Scores Again With Huge $87 Million, ‘Renfield’ Flops With $7.7 Million Debut

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” left its box office competitors in the dust, scoring a massive $87 million in its second weekend of release. Ticket sales declined just 41% from its debut, resulting in the best sophomore outing ever for an animated film. So far, the video game adaptation has grossed $347.8 million in North America and $678 million globally.

“Mario” stayed strong even as several new movies entered the theatrical race, to varying results. In a surprise finish, Universal’s wacky horror-comedy “Renfield,” which sees Nicolas Cage as Count Dracula and Nicholas Hoult as his rebelling henchmen, landed in fourth place with a disappointing $7.7 million from 3,375 locations. Heading into the weekend, it seemed like it would take the No. 2 slot. Instead, “Renfield” arrived behind Sony’s R-rated demonic thriller “The Pope’s Exorcist,” which also fell slightly short of expectations with $9.1 million, and Lionsgate’s “John Wick: Chapter 4.”

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It’s a particularly weak start for “Renfield” because the film cost $65 million to make and tens of millions more to market. It’ll struggle to crawl its way out of the black in its theatrical run. And the movie earned a tepid “B-” CinemaScore, which doesn’t bode well in terms of word-of-mouth.

“This is a lukewarm opening for a horror comedy,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “‘Renfield’ was an expensive production. That’s a long climb to profitability, even with solid ancillary business.”

By comparison, “The Pope’s Exorcist” carries an $18 million price tag so it has an easier path to profitability. Reviews for “The Pope’s Exorcist” weren’t enthusiastic either (it has a 47% on Rotten Tomatoes), but critical sentiments rarely matter for the opening weekend of horror movies. (Subsequent weekends are another story).

Again, the weekend belonged to “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which is primed to be the first movie of 2023 to cross $1 billion globally. After two weekends in theaters, it’s already the highest-grossing film of the year, surpassing “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” ($474 million). “Mario” also became the biggest video game adaptation in history, overtaking the totals of 2016’s “Warcraft” ($439 million) and “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” ($449 million).

In third place, “John Wick 4” added $7.925 million in its fourth weekend of release. To date, the Keanu Reeves-led action sequel has grossed a strong $160.1 million in North America and $349 million globally. It’s officially overtaken 2019’s “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” ($328 million) to become the highest earner of the franchise.

“Air,” a sports drama directed by Ben Affleck, rounded out the top five with $7.7 million from 3,507 theaters. It could swap places with “Renfield” when final numbers are tallied on Monday. With those ticket sales, “Air” has earned $33.28 million at the domestic box office.

Elsewhere at the box office, Crunchyroll’s coming-of-age anime adventure “Suzume” opened to $5 million from 2,170 theaters. That’s not a great result compared to other recent anime movies from Crunchyroll, like “Demon Slayer” installments and 2022’s “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” ($22 million to start). However, “Suzume,” which was directed by Makoto Shinkai, has great reviews and has already done huge business in Asia. It was released last year in Japan, where it became a huge hit with $104 million.

“Suzume” took the No. 7 spot ahead of another newcomer, Bleecker Street’s “Mafia Mamma,” which took in a dismal $2.04 million from 2,002 theaters. Toni Collette stars in the poorly reviewed film as a mild-mannered suburban mom who unexpectedly inherits her late grandfather’s Italian mafia empire.

At the indie box office, Ari Aster’s latest anxiety-inducer “Beau Is Afraid” grossed $320,396 on four screens in New York and Los Angeles, translating to $80,099 per screen — the biggest of the year. The A24 movie, starring Joaquin Phoenix as a man who endures a lot of suffering on his way to his mother’s funeral, hopes to sustain that momentum as it expands nationwide next weekend.

More to come…

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